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6 Things that Resemble the Death Star

Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm

It's a simple shape, a sphere with a concave dish set in the surface. In 1977, the shape was forever linked to the movie Star Wars and is known as the Death Star. In the movie, it was a space station as large as a natural moon that housed the "ultimate weapon", a planet-destroying laser.

1. Hotel Full Moon

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The Hotel Full Moon in Baku, Azerbaijan is a design from Heerim Architects of Korea, to be built on a peninsula overlooking Full Moon Bay. The luxury hotel will have 382 rooms in its 35 stories. Another hotel on the bay will be called Hotel Crescent, also with a shape to follow its name.

2. Convention Center Near Dubai

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The RAK Convention and Exhibition Center in the new city of Ras al Khaimah, UAE looks very much like the Death Star. A project still in the concept stage from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, the design is the result of a competition. The project team is led by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who also designed the CCTV building in Beijing. The building will hold hotels, offices, restaurants, and stores as well as a convention hall. See more pictures here.

3. Belarus National Library

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The Belarus National Library moved into a new building in 2006. It's not spherical; the shape is a rhombicuboctahedron (try saying that three times fast). During the day, the 24 sides sparkle with glass panels. At night, they are illuminated by 4646 color-changing LEDs. The Minsk building is imposing and not without controversy. It has been referred to as the Death Star both because of the way it looks and how it was financed.

4. AT&T Logo

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AT&T's world globe logo was designed by Saul Bass in 1984, replacing the phone logo that had been in use for nearly 100 years. This came about because of the forced breakup of Ma Bell into seven regional "baby bells". SBC Communications bought AT&T in 2005, and a new, slightly different logo was unveiled. The newest one hides the classic death star spot somewhat better, but some can still seethe Evil Empire in the logo.

5. Panapet

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The distinctive shape of the Death Star was around before Star Wars. It's possible that George Lucas, or some of the other creative minds behind Star Wars owned a Panasonic R-70 transistor radio, marketed as the Panapet. Verylikely, in fact, since it seemed everyone had one. They were produced in the early 70s.

6. Mimas

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The most amazing similacrum of the Death Star is Mimas, one of the inner moons of Saturn. It has an 80-mile-wide crater named Herschel, which looks like it could easily focus a superlaser. The uncanny resemblence is coincidental, as Star Wars was made several years before the first photographs of Mimas with its crater were taken.

If you love the shape, and don't want to travel to Dubai, or Minsk, or Saturn, you can build your own Death Star with a Lego kit -or just watch someone else do it.

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Buckingham Palace Was Built With Jurassic Fossils, Scientists Find
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iStock

The UK's Buckingham Palace is a vestige from another era, and not just because it was built in the early 18th century. According to a new study, the limestone used to construct it is filled with the fossilized remains of microbes from the Jurassic period of 200 million years ago, as The Telegraph reports.

The palace is made of oolitic limestone, which consists of individual balls of carbonate sediment called ooids. The material is strong but lightweight, and is found worldwide. Jurassic oolite has been used to construct numerous famous buildings, from those in the British city of Bath to the Empire State Building and the Pentagon.

A new study from Australian National University published in Scientific Reports found that the spherical ooids in Buckingham Palace's walls are made up of layers and layers of mineralized microbes. Inspired by a mathematical model from the 1970s for predicting the growth of brain tumors, the researchers created a model that explains how ooids are created and predicts the factors that limit their ultimate size.

A hand holding a chunk of oolite limestone
Australian National University

They found that the mineralization of the microbes forms the central core of the ooid, and the layers of sediment that gather around that core feed those microbes until the nutrients can no longer reach the core from the outermost layer.

This contrasts with previous research on how ooids form, which hypothesized that they are the result of sediment gathered from rolling on the ocean floor. It also reshapes how we think about the buildings made out of oolitic limestone from this period. Next time you look up at the Empire State Building or Buckingham Palace, thank the ancient microbes.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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